By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
Mike Hastings says a college hockey team always gets a better player back from the World Junior Championships, and Teddy Blueger hopes his coach is right.
“I think all the games were played at a very high level; they were all really fast,” the Minnesota State freshman center said. “The style of play was a little different, but I had a chance to play all kinds of situations. That was good.”
Blueger played for Latvia in the tournament, which ended Saturday in Ufa, Russia.
The United States defeated Sweden for the gold medal. Blueger’s Latvian team did not win a game and is ineligible to play in next year’s tournament.
“It was fun to be a part of; it was fun playing against the guys we played against,” Blueger said after Minnesota State’s practice on Wednesday. “Obviously, it makes it a lot less fun if you don’t win.”
Blueger missed the Mavericks’ last four games while playing at Worlds. This week, he was back on MSU’s third line between Johnny McInnis and Chase Grant.
“He hasn’t missed a beat; he looks good,” Hastings said. “It’s exciting to have him back with what he brings on the ice. And he’s well-liked and well-respected in the locker room.”
Blueger is the Mavericks’ top-scoring freshman with 12 points in 18 games.
Minnesota State’s opponent this weekend also gets a player back from the World Junior Championships. Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe was the captain of the U.S. team.
Minnesota State defenseman Josh Nelson will miss at least the next two series with what’s being called an upper-body injury.
Nelson was hurt blocking a shot during Saturday’s game against Providene.
The junior has played in 21 of MSU’s first 22 games, scoring four goals and assiting on three others. He has become a staple on the Mavericks’ second power play unit, scoring three goals, including one on Friday.
Smith earns honor
Minnesota State women’s forward Lauren Smith was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for her play in the Mavericks’ nonconference sweep of Lindenwood last week.
Smith finished the two games with seven points — four goals, three assists — and extended her point-scoring streak to five games.
The senoir leads MSU in scoring with 16 goals and 12 points in 22 games. She is two goals shy of the Mavericks’ single-game school record and five assists away from the career mark.
The Mavericks play at Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday.
The Gustavus Adolphus women’s hockey team recently returned from a nine-day trip to Austria and Germany that included three exhibition games against local club teams as well as the Austrian National Team.
Gustavus won all three games, including a 7-2 win over the Austrians.
The undefeated Gusties (10-0-0) are ranked No. 2 in Division III and will host Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Friday and Saturday.
Ford events set
The Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26, at Westwood Marina on Lake Washington. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register or for more information, go to anthonyford99.com.
A silent auction to raise money for the Anthony Ford Foundation will take place Friday before, during and after the Minnesota State men’s game against Wisconsin. Items will be in the Bank Vault Room of the Verizon Wireless Center, starting at 5 p.m. The auction will close a half hour after the game.